With well over 24 Pink Floyd tribute albums (and counting) already on the market you have to ask yourself … do we really need another one?
And of those 20 plus albums at least four are dedicated to “The Wall” (“Back Against The Wall”, “Wall 2000”, Rebuilding The Wall”, and even a Hillbilly hoedown complete with fiddles and banjos entitled “Rebuild The Wall”).
Pink Floyd tribute albums include 4 symphonic albums, a string quartet, a piano tribute, a reggae tribute, a Bluegrass tribute entitled “Pickin On Floyd”, a Chilled-out tribute, a disco dance tribute, and an electronic tribute. Enough already!
The best of these albums are those which come closest to emulating the actual band. Yet in the end a tribute album is little more than a novelty and an opportunity for fellow musicians to pay homage to a band or artist who may have inspired them at one point in their career.
For the cynical among us … a tribute album is just another way of squeezing a few bucks from a fan when no new albums have been released. And on occasion these tribute albums can be interesting and contain some truly inspired performances.
I have no qualms with tribute albums - or tribute bands for that matter. A quality Pink Floyd tribute band (of which there are at least 50 Worldwide that I'm aware of) can provide a nostalgic alternative to the real thing.
My problem isn't the tribute album … but the anti-tribute album.
The What?! Anti-tribute album!?
The anti-tribute album is one in which the artist dismantles the original compositions from the ground-up, re-imagining the recording into something it was were never intended to be … which is exactly what the Italian Avant-garde band R-Evolution Band did on their 2013 release “The Dark Side Of The Wall”.
R-Evolution Band consists of the following players: Vittorio Sabelli (clarinet, vocals, alto & baritone sax), Marcello Malatesta (keyboards, cpu programming), Graziano Brugani (doublebass, electric bass), Gabrieli Tardiolo”Svedonio” (guitar, bouzouki, lap steel guitar), and Oreste Sbarra (drums); as well as guest musicians: Sonia Belini (spoken word), Ilaria Bucci (vocals), Angel C Malak (growl and screaming), Gianluca Peluso (growl and screaming), Claudio Mariani (guitar), Pasquale Farinacci (violin), Paolo Castellitto (viola), Antonio Iannetta (cello), Antonio Salvador Conte (percussion).
The caliber of the musicians on the recording is superb. And several segments featuring the string quartet stand out – but taken as a whole this re-imagining is a mixed bag of mayhem.
The time would have been better spent recording an album of original material rather than bastardizing an existing classic into something completely unrecognizable.
It takes courage fueled by arrogance to tear down an acknowledged masterpiece and re-assemble it in your image. And that's exactly what R-Evolution did.
As the band boasts in their promo package: “The original album has been irreversibly destroyed, for the first time since 1979, but every single track has been not just deconstructed, but also put together in a new concept. In some tracks it's easy to find out traces of the original album, but mostly the band took some basic elements from the floydian masterpiece just as starting points and worked on a deep melodic, harmonic and structured revision.”
And that's true enough. The Floyd songs have been utterly destroyed. Completely ravaged! In many instances indistinguishable from the original composition. With melody lines replaced by narcoleptic spoken-word sing-song female dialogue (“Comfortably Numb” is the worst … where did the melody go?) and snarling heavy metal vocals making it unpalatable for anyone with the slightest reverence for the original recording.
Where the band suggests changes in melodic and harmonic structure I only hear blocks of Avant-garde dissonance and discord. In their de-construction/re-construction of Pink Floyd, R-Evolution substitutes emotion with commotion.
The spacey sophisticated Pink Floyd sound which propelled “The Wall” to the status of progressive rock masterpiece has been downgraded to a chaotic cacophony of speed metal, Industrial hardcore mayhem, noisy free jazz (complete with squawking sax solos), and reggae. And on the track “The Trial” the band injects a kind of cartoonish jazz clarinet ensemble piece you might expect to hear on Danny Elfman's score for “A Nightmare Before Christmas”.
Rather than continue to bash this project unmercifully I'll begrudgingly acknowledge the band with a tip of the hat for taking a calculated risk and thinking outside the box, but in doing so an old adage springs to mind - “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein's patchwork monstrosity, cobbled together from existing bits and pieces of human carnage, resulted in a living creature absent a soul. And the same can be said of R-Evolution's misguided experiment to vivisect Pink Floyd's classic “The Wall” then reanimate it into their creation - “The Dark Side Of The Wall”.
The end result is a soul-less 'Wall Of Noise' and little more.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on September 28th, 2013